I want to define myself as a refugee before defining myself as a Palestinian.
Having a UN recognized refugee status has given me a first-hand and a unique perspective on the conflict. This unique identity has placed me, particularly in my childhood yet throughout my life, at the centre of the conflict, and a witness to some of the most awful atrocities.
I was born in 1993, the same year as the Oslo agreement. Some years later, in September 2000, the second Intifada started after Ariel Sharon invaded the Al Aqsa mosque, waging an unforgettable guerrilla war. One week before, my father took me to visit Al Aqsa. It was such a beautiful time, and we had already decided to visit again soon. Sharon made sure that wouldn’t happen.
I remember my parent’s grunts at the beginning of the Intifada during the night. I remember hearing them say we hope Jews don’t come to our camp and hurt us. I was asking myself at the time as a kid, “who are Jews, what do they want, and why would they want to hurt us?” I didn’t have answers to these questions, but I was terrified. I was just a seven-year-old kid.
As the days passed, I became more certain that we were not living in a safe place. On the TV screen, I watched with fear the terror of war unfolding before my eyes. I saw Israeli massacres, demolishing houses, pictures of soldiers and tanks, Palestinian martyrs, checkpoints between and inside the cities.
I remember thinking a lot, having an internal dialogue with myself about my fears and wondering why this was happening. I was trying to convince myself, at least, that the war will not come to us, will not come to my camp.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
To Be Continued